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Spartan Heights

In Review

100 North 4th Street, San Jose, CA 9512

Project Overview

• Project Type: Student Housing + Retail

• Owner/Developer: Brent Lee

• Presented to our members: May 2020

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Catalyze SV evaluates project sustainability, equity, and vibrancy. Learn about our project review process.

Spartan Heights Project Scorecard
Project Overview:

Spartan Heights by Brent Lee is for a 25-story residential tower with 330 units (1,579 beds), of which 15% will be on-site affordable. It also includes 8,423 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, 287 car parking spaces, and 406 bike parking spaces. The development will cater to San Jose State University students from the nearby campus and is a three-minute walk to the St. James Park VTA light rail station.

Spartan Heights scored an overall 3.86 out of 5 from our Project Advocacy Committee members.

Community Score: 4/5

We appreciate that LPMD Architects has hosted two community meetings and met with the San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) about a previous design for a condo project. We would recommend that the new student-focused design be brought back to the community and SJDA to get additional feedback and buy-in. Additionally, we recommend additional outreach be conducted with the San Jose Downtown Residents Association, the University Housing Services at San Jose State University (SJSU), and other SJSU student groups.

Vibrancy Score: 4/5

Spartan Heights will bring 1,579 residents and 8,400 square feet of ground-floor commercial space to a part of Downtown that lacks vibrancy. With a planned café with outside seating, art in the lobby, and amenities and activities for residents, this project will bring vibrancy to the neighborhood. We also believe that this project could benefit from retail and additional outdoor activation that caters to its many residents. We would also suggest that rooftop activation is explored and that the amenities such as the community lounge be opened to the community and not limited to use only by residents.


Transportation Score: 4/5

Spartan Heights makes real strides in prioritizing multi-modal transportation by locating a short walk from San Jose State University and 500 feet from St. James Light Rail Station. Additionally, we are happy to see that the development will only provide 0.87 parking spaces per unit (0.18 parking spaces per bed), although we feel this could be lowered and should be rented separately from the units. Our major transportation concern is that there are only 406 bike parking spaces or 0.26 bike parking spaces per resident. Because this development caters to students and rightly limits car parking, we recommend the bicycle parking is increased so that most or all residents are provided a bicycle parking space. We are also glad to hear that Transportation Demand Management measures will be included, and we encourage LPMD Architects to explore car-share, bike share, or shared scooters since SJSU students receive free VTA transit passes through SJSU.


Intensity/Zoning Score: 5/5

At 25-floors and 336 dwelling units per acre, Spartan Heights is the type of development that will flat out help Silicon Valley solve our housing crisis. This is particularly the case when you consider that there will be 1,579 beds total or 1,611 beds per acre, within a 5-minute walk of San Jose State University, where most of the residents will attend school.


Sustainability Score: 3/5

This development plans to meet the City of San Jose’s building standard and provided little additional information on the project’s sustainability. We encourage the developer to consider designing to a higher sustainability standard and to look into adding low-cost sustainability features. We’ll be happy to consider increasing this score if/once you do so.


Affordability Score: 3/5

This project does a great job of addressing affordability by providing affordable market-rate housing (targeted at $1,200 dollars a month per bed) for students by reducing construction costs of the building skin and interior finishes. While we were also glad to hear that 15% of the units will be set aside for affordable housing, the details were unclear. We would like to learn more about what Area Median Income will be targeted and how these units will be provided to residents/students most in need.


Legacy Score: 4 /5

The project site includes two historical Victorian houses and a surface parking lot that we are glad to see developed. The Victorians will be moved to an adjacent single-family home parcel for preservation which has been endorsed by the San Jose Historic Landmarks Commission. While we believe this is a good outcome we would like to see more details on how the Victorians will be reused.

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